Negotiators are armed with the IPCC’s recent synthesis report, and the knowledge that Australia’s new prime minister Kevin Rudd ratified Kyoto on his first day of office, leaving the US as the only major developed nation not to ratify the agreement.

Delegates have two weeks to come up with a plan.

“The scientific debate has been conclusively laid to rest by the latest scientific findings from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – climate change is unequivocal and accelerating,” said Indonesian environment minister and president of the conference, Rachmat Witoelar. “Countries now have to agree on the agenda for the negotiations. This will cover the key areas for the new climate change deal and what the organizational and procedural arrangements are to get to this result.”

According to Witoelar, any outcome of the Bali conference short of the launch of negotiations and a clear deadline of 2009 to end negotiations would be a failure.

The new deal is likely to cover areas such as mitigation, adaptation, technology and financing. The mitigation focus will probably include work on reducing deforestation in developing countries by agreeing on how to measure and quantify the resulting level of emissions avoided, setting up pilot projects in developing countries, and allocating resources. The Bali delegates will also discuss issues such as technology transfer, the management and operation of a fund for adaptation, and the international carbon market created by the Kyoto Protocol.

“It is essential that vulnerable developing countries are in a position to draw up plans to prepare for climate change impacts,“ said UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary Yvo de Boer. “It is also essential that agreement is reached on how the Kyoto Protocol’s adaptation fund is managed so that the fund can begin financing real adaptation projects.”

Countries will continue to negotiate on-going work under the Kyoto Protocol, including strengthening the Clean Development Mechanism. In addition, de Boer hopes that this work can be concluded speedily to free up the negotiation capacity needed for the post-2012 process.

The Kyoto Protocol only included requirements for developed nations (Annex 1) countries to cut their carbon dioxide emissions. But according to the International Energy Agency, China is expected to overtake the US as the world’s largest emitter this year, with India predicted to become the third-largest emitter by around 2015.

“Parties need to create the toolbox that can reduce emissions cost-effectively and enable economic growth,” said de Boer. “The final step of the two-year negotiating process will be to define targets and the type of legal instrument that is needed to make the new international deal work.”